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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Another "Sopranos" Casualty?

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The job you don't want Monday morning: switchboard operator at the cable company.


I'm guessing there'll be scads of calls from HBO customers pulling the plug after "The Sopranos" finale airs Sunday night.


I thought about it.


There was a time when I couldn't have lived without HBO--the movies, "Inside The NFL", big-name boxing. Then came "Six Feet Under", "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood."


After Sunday, they'll all be gone.


I like "Entourage", and Bill Maher's "Real Time" is maddening: occasionally brilliant, sometimes uncomfortably obvious/unfunny/uncomfortable, but the pluses are still outweighing the negatives.


What is there to fill the void?


Fortunately, FX.


"Rescue Me" is back next week, and if you aren't already a fan, might I suggest you plug in a.s.a.p. Denis Leary is a New York firefighter bothered by the after-effects of 9-11, booze, a shattered marriage, a dysfunctional family, the death of a son, and the politics of the firehouse. Unbelievable television: stark, funny, poignant, gut-wrenching. Not for the faint of heart, which is a polite way of saying "stay away" if you're bothered by rough language, sex, and sophomoric humor.


Read more here.

Cable is, for the most part, a fly-over: endless clicks of faceless channels that all look alike in trying to pander to a certain demo or niche. FX is separating itself from the pack with each and every one of it's original offerings. It's a place to be forgotten the rest of the time, but offerings like "Rescue Me", "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck" are making it a reliable stop. Toss in one of my guilty pleasures, Courtney Cox Arquette's "Dirt", and you've got a channel that's turning heads while offering a reliable alternate to HBO.


And, did I mention the best part?


It's free.

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